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Fuel Shortages Should Ease Over Coming Days As Colonial Fully Restarts Pipelines

It will take several days for the supply chain of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to normalize fully even after the restart of full operations at a critical pipeline that was shut down this month.

Colonial Pipeline said late Thursday it had brought its entire pipeline system back into operation, noting that "product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve."

The company had to shut down its pipelines after suffering a cyberattack last week, sparking a wave of panic-buying that emptied many gas stations across the Southeast.

"Station pumps will be full of fuel in several days," AAA spokeswoman Jeanette McGee said Thursday. "This is an especially good update ahead of the Memorial Day holiday."

Regions that saw price spikes because of the pipeline outage will see relief soon, McGee added.

Meanwhile, refineries are still producing gasoline, which is continuing to flow into pipelines and ports.

"We have an abundant supply of fuel in the United States," Susan Grissom, chief industry analyst for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade group, said Thursday.

The trucking industry is working to move gasoline from terminals to stations, helped by the easing of state and federal regulations governing fuel transportation despite being hampered by a trucker shortage.

The biggest question mark is whether the wave of panic-buying triggered by the shutdown will subside long enough to allow gas stations to refill their tanks and stay filled.

This week, some stations sold several days' worth of fuel in a matter of hours, which makes it impossible for small stations to avoid shortages even if they have regular resupplies.

There are positive signs that the panic may be easing: The app GasBuddy reported adrop in gasoline demand week-over-week on Thursday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.